American Violence, American Racism

I’d started working on a post about the history of #OwnVoices when I heard about the killing of a 20-year-old black man named Daunte Wright by police in Minnesota. This happened at the same time as the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of another black man, George Floyd. Today also saw another school shooting, this one in Knoxville, that resulted in at least one dead and one injured.

And I thought to myself, “After a year of COVID, I guess things are getting back to normal in America.”

I’m sure we’ll get more of the same old responses. Empty thoughts and prayers for the victims at the school. Excuses for the police, and claims that it’s just “a few bad apples.” (Click the link if you’re unfamiliar with the real history and meaning of that phrase.)

We’ll get the usual defenses and attempts at derailing. One popped up on Twitter earlier today, where Matt Walsh was saying,

Since the beginning of 2020, over 500 white people have been killed by the cops compared to fewer than 300 black people. Yet there hasn’t been a single protest against the white killings. The protesters choose only the black victims to be outraged about. Ask yourself why.

Author N. K. Jemisin responded,

Because Black people are killed *disproportionately,* revealing a racial bias in how how police treat us, and therefore we must protest to protect ourselves. But it’s not a bad question; why don’t white ppl protest how often white ppl are killed by the cops? They should.

Going by Walsh’s numbers, almost twice as many white people were killed by police as black people. But it’s simple to look up the U.S. census numbers, where you’ll find that white people outnumber black people by more than four to one in this country.

For that matter, black people are also disproportionately incarcerated in the U.S.

And people will continue to insist that racism isn’t a thing. I remember a woman saying she’d unfollowed me online because I’d been talking about racism, and she hadn’t seen any of what I was talking about, and she had a black daughter, so she was pretty sure I was wrong.

Here are two of the many research findings people ignore, from The Sentencing Project’s 2018 Report to the UN:

  1. “Prosecutors are more likely to charge people of color with crimes that carry heavier sentences than whites. Federal prosecutors, for example, are twice as likely to charge African Americans with offenses that carry a mandatory minimum sentence than similarly situated whites.”
  2. “State prosecutors are also more likely to charge black rather than similar white defendants under habitual offender laws.”

And then there are the school shootings. Once again, people will link to that article from The Onion. “No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

I wonder if we’re ever gonna talk about the fact that 98% of these mass shootings are committed by men? Or that “white men are disproportionately responsible for mass shootings more than any other group”? (Source)

Nah. We’ll just wait 24 hours until the news forgets about Knoxville, and go about our business until the next mass shooting. That’s so much easier than facing our nation’s deep-rooted problems with racism, or the damage caused by toxic masculinity.

I’m so tired of the excuses and the lies. How are we supposed to solve problems when so many people refuse to acknowledge the problems even exist?

  • Police shouldn’t murder people.
  • We shouldn’t punish people more harshly because of their race.
  • Children shouldn’t be gunned down.

None of these statements should be controversial. I suspect most people would agree. But too many would immediately make excuses, too. “The police have a dangerous job, and the victim should have cooperated, and if they weren’t a criminal they’d be safe,” and so on. Or they’ll simply refuse to believe the research and statistics.

And god forbid you restate things a little.

  • We should take steps to stop police from murdering people.
  • We should reform the justice system so people aren’t punished more harshly based on race.
  • We should protect our kids from being gunned down.

Then it’s nothing but “Blue Lives Matter!” and “Well, I guess we’ll just have to run more active shooter drills and sell more bullet-proof backpacks.”

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid America really is getting back to normal.